Posted by: grantahelms | April 8, 2012

Higher Education and the Dreamer

About a month ago, in my College Skills class, we were given an assignment to visualize our role in life and write it in our journal. I made a fairly good grade on it, and today while doing demolition, shoveling roach carcasses and laying brick, my visualization came to mind and I would like to share it:

As I am sitting behind my mahogany desk in a heated leather office chair, I stare at my college degree on the wall. So many memories. Some good. Some, well, not so good. Hours of studying, three-hour naps, incessant e-mails from my instructors and, let’s not forget, hours spent standing in line at the school store. Well, it WAS worth it! Suddenly, I am returned to reality by the intercom. ” Mr. Helms, Joseph Branham is on the phone wondering if you can review the plans for the Logan Properties Project?” As I ponder the request, a yellow “Post-it” note catches my eye.”Becky, tell Mr. Branham to start without me. My grand-daughters graduation is tonight, and then we leave on a seven-day cruise. Tell him that I’ll see him week after next.” As I light a Cuban cigar and pour myself a small glass of Blackberry flavored Zinfandel, I silently toast ” Higher Education” for all the freedom and the chance to re-evaluate my priorities.

I know that it is an assumption, but I would imagine that many of you have college degrees of one type or the other.  What I wonder, is have you used them to their “fullest potential”? Are you ALL that you can be? If not, why? What I don’t understand is how someone with an Accounting degree or a Business Law major, can be made to answer the phones at some businesses. Many would say that they have to start at “ground level”. I say ________________! Few high school graduates go to college. Many drop out after the first year. Still fewer make it all the way to graduation, and then are offered a secretaries job. That’s CRAZY!!! Come on people, what’s wrong with you? When someone has worked very hard, they should be rewarded. I feel that the reason for this is that we have become complacent. We have failed to encourage our children to be everything that they want to be. When I was a child, Mom and Dad told me that I could be a banker, a lawyer, a police officer, even the President. They expected A’s on my report card, though often disappointed. Now most of society asks for C’s or above. You can never be President because we’re not rich enough. You don’t want to be a lawyer, because you don’t like liars. And most of all, watch out for the cops because they are all crooked. Instead of this negativity, let’s quote the immortal words of Ralph Crandon from the TV show ” The Honeymooners”: To the moon Alice, to the moon. As a society, we need to PUSH our children to be all that they can. Just because you want to settle, doesn’t mean that you should teach your children that. Thanks for bearing with me once again. God Bless, Grant



  1. Yikes! What have I done with my degree – not much. It’s a long story, and the process did a whole lot for me. Something to think about (the why). Angie

    • Thanks Angie. I’m sure that most people have a reason for use or non-use of degrees. Some are good like becoming a Mom or taking care of parents. Others… well, I’m not so sure. God Bless You, Grant

  2. You are right. Let’s set the bar a little higher. I find in youth ministry that the students I work with with only go as far as they are challenged. They have been conditioned to do the bare minimum, so we should not be surprised. Have I reached my full potential? I suppose not. But, I am using my degree. I actually am graduating next month with my Master’s Degree.

    • Thanks Derek, Every week I’m kind of disgusted when the teacher asks for homework and gets a multitude of excuses: I had to work. My child was sick. I didn’t hear you assign that. I didn’t have time to do it. That’s crap. I get up at 6 am daily. Go to work 6-10 hours per day. Help wife with foster children. Class 4 nights per week. Study until 1-2 am. Start over again. Conclusion: You must push for the goal! Congrats on the Masters. God Bless You, Grant

  3. You are right Grant, both children and adults need to be pushed to achieve. However, there are also realities to be faced in the world we live in today and not facing those realities is sure to cause some bloody noses along the way.

    It is a big world we live in, full of people with the same ambitions and reaching for the same brass ring. Our willingness to work hard and establish realistic goals is the first step toward success, the truth is we are not all cut out to be CEO’s of multi-national corporations or President of the United States. Finding our niche and then working toward excellence is a far better goal than being pushed toward someone else’s idea of success.

    There are times when education for the pure joy of learning is a goal unto itself. Broadening our mind, learning about the world and those in it is worth the effort. There are times when that Sheepskin on the wall is only that a Sheepskin on the wall, a stepping stone; proof you can achieve a goal.

    I have two of them, I achieved a goal. Do I use them? Yes. Did they help me achieve other goals? Yes. Will they help me achieve future goals? Yes. Were they worth the time and money I spent? Yes. But likely not in the way you might think.

    • Thanks Val. It’s good to hear from you again. I understand where you’re coming from. I agree that everyone doesn’t qualify as a CEO, just like everyone can’t be a mechanic, a teacher, an electrician,etc. And sometimes I think that people don’t do their research before proceeding into education. It’s kind of like commerce, the laws of supply and demand. Why pick a degree in a field that has an 11.3% unemployment rate? As for success, I do agree that it varies by the individual. Many people say that I’m not successful. Why? Because, instead of working all the time to become rich, I work to pay my bills then use my other time to spend with family and helping others. To me, time with family is SUCCESS! Congrats on the degrees. Just keep living to your idea of success and don’t worry about anyone else. God Bless You, Grant

      • I think that is the point, success is what you define it is not what others define it as. I am successful because my children are happy, grown and healthy (and not living with me). I am successful because I do work that I find challenging and that I truly love (most of the time).

        There are other things I want to accomplish before I am done, none of them have anything to do with advancing in my field. In fact I want to change careers one more time before I retire. The idea of supply and demand is a great way of looking at it, but sometimes I think we still should pursue learning for the absolute joy of learning.

  4. Grant, you have always done what you thought was best. Continue to do that , and let nothing or no one stand in your way. Higher learning never hurt anyone.. Love you brother in law.

    • Thanks Jim. Love you too. God Bless You, Grant

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